Obituary: Ernie Michie

Obituary: Ernie Michie

Scottish Rugby is saddened to hear of the death of former Scotland lock Ernie Michie. He passed away on Saturday night aged 88.

Ernest James Stewart Michie won 15 caps for Scotland between 1954 and 1957. He was born in Aberdeen on November 7, 1933 and was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School where he was an outstanding member of the first XV.

Making his debut for the North of Scotland as a teenager, Michie joined the Scotland team when it was in the midst of its darkest period.Capped out of Aberdeen University, Scotland’s last win had been three years before Michie first wore the thistle.

His selection did not trigger an instant reversal of fortunes, but, as a 21-year-old, Michie was one of the famous XV who brought the run of 17 successive defeats over four years to an end.

We spoke to him six years ago, close to the 60th anniversary of Scotland’s 14-8 win against Wales in 1955 which ended the sequence, and his recollections were vivid.

“I was certainly conscious of Scotland having lost over all these years.It was a funny season.I was injured at the start of it.The SRU organised an extra trial (match) and the reason was that Scotland had been beaten so badly by France in Paris.

“I was invited to this trial, and I played in the Whites and when the Scotland team was selected for the Wales game, I was lucky enough to be in the side.

“We came together on the Thursday afternoon and had our tea.The Friday afternoon was the only time we trained as a team.”

And what of the match? “I can remember (Scotland wing) Arthur Smith’s try. Arthur got around his man.He did not look as if he was going very fast, but he was a beautiful runner with a long stride. He ran virtually the whole length of the field and he kicked ahead just at the end, because he thought he was going to be tackled, regathered and went over in the corner.”

Smith’s try, a touchdown from scrum-half Jimmy Nichol and the balance from the boot of Kim Elgie and Jimmy Docherty saw Scotland to that famous victory.

Michie went on to win another ten caps for Scotland, scoring his only international try in a 10-14 loss to Ireland in Dublin in 1956.

His final cap was against England at Twickenham the following year.

From his first taste of adult rugby at Aberdeen University, Michie went on to play for Aberdeen GSFP, the Army – during his service in the Royal Engineers – Leicester, London Scottish and Langholm.

He helped Langholm to the double of unofficial Scottish champions and Border League winners in 1958-59.

He toured with the British Lions to Southern Africa in 1955 playing in 11 matches outside the Tests and scoring a try in the final match of the tour against East Africa in Nairobi.

Michie, who worked as a district officer for the Forestry Commission – a job that took him around Scotland and England – represented the Barbarians on seven occasions, including their North America tour in 1957 scoring a try in a big victory over British Columbia.

When he moved to Inverness in the 1960s, he quickly became heavily involved at Highland Rugby Club both on and off the field and when he moved further north to Dornoch in the 1970s he soon was the driving force in starting a club initially on football pitches there and then playing in Brora.

For a man who had played at the very apex of the game, his passion for it and burning desire to share it with all he met was inspirational.

Scottish Rugby extends its sincere condolences to Ernie Michie’s family and many friends.

Ernie Michie’s funeral will take place on Thursday 25 November at 12 noon at William T Fraser Funeral home, Culduthel Road, Inverness IV2 6AB. Mourners are invited to the Kingsmills Hotel, Culcabock Rd, Inverness IV2 3LP at 1.45pm for the wake.

Image caption: Ernie recalls the 1955 test win over Wales in an interview with Scottish Rugby in 2015. Full video can be watched below.

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